As the title says, I’m 38 and still haven’t found an IT profession where I’ve excelled in. I’ve been battling with depression a majority of my life which has slowed my progress in life down to make something of myself. I hate the fact that I have this thing over my shoulders and it’s a constant battle most days. I’m extremely frustrated with myself as I can’t find a way out of this.

I haven’t been employed in an IT role for several years (2015) and during this time I’ve had several long periods of unemployment. I’ve registered with job agencies to do anything but the jobs are not IT related and are just temping work with no job security. I’ve tried to get back into IT again with having several job interviews, but I’ve failed miserably in them due to my performance of being nervous and having anxiety.

I have a degree in IT with several positions in the past as a Front-end dev, but these positions didn’t really allow me to expand upon my programming skills. They weren’t heavy coding positions and were mainly just maintaining websites with the occasional development tweaks here and there. I have a reasonable foundation of html/css and basic skills in JavaScript. But I don’t feel confident that this is enough to get me back into IT again. I haven’t really kept up to date with these skills! I have always struggled with the programming aspects of things and I don’t know whether this is because of the opportunities I’ve had haven’t allowed me to grow in that area or I’m just fooling myself that one day I will get it. I’ve even tried to apply for a Dev Apprenticeship to get my skills to a point I feel comfortable with again but having already practiced in that area the Government won’t fund someone who’s worked in that area before. They will only fund someone who wants to work in a different IT discipline.

I really don’t know how to move forward from this. I’ve been looking at other paths of IT such as Software Testing, DBA or Network Engineering. Do these careers have a bright future? Web dev seems to be one of the careers that’s always on top and the job market is always in demand.

I would appreciate if anyone could give me some great advice.

Many thanks


I’m 38 and still haven’t found an IT profession where I’ve excelled in.

Additionally to the previous good answers, I would like to add: You shouldn't search for a profession you will excel in. Striving for perfection is good, but it can paralyze sometimes.

Tell yourself that "done is better than perfect". You don't need to be very good or perfect. It's enough to be ok at the beginning - or even not to be ok but to learn quickly. In most jobs, you will commit mistakes. The trick is to 1) learn from them and 2) to control your work so that you catch most of your mistakes and correct them before submission.

Focus on what you can, not what you can't do.

I’ve failed miserably in them due to my performance of being nervous and having anxiety.

Do two things:

  • Try to learn to interact with people with self-confidence also out of the interview context. Go to your local toastmasters club and make a speech. Or attend meetup.org meetings with people you don't know, during which you need to present yourself. Do whatever you can to meet new people. Observe how people - especially self-confident people - behave. Give yourself goals. For example, I used to be horribly shy and felt inferior to people during my M.A. So I told myself I would ask at least one question during every seminar. After doing that several times you are so used to it that you don't care anymore. When we don't interact with people much, the mammoth grows.
  • Work on your skills. This creates confidence.
  • Also, keep in mind that getting an interview in my experience already means the employer sees a reasonable chance you will be a good candidate. No-one invites people for an interview that have no chance of getting hired! This may boost your confidence a bit.
    – bytepusher
    Nov 18 '18 at 14:14

First of all, it is great that you are seeking help!

On top of advice given by DigitalBlade969, I'd recommend starting low and climb the ladder little by little, at your own pace.

It's not a shame taking an entry-level position — even at 38 — and, if you have good explanation about why you're doing it (see advice on this site: e.g., How do I explain being unemployed for nearly two years due to untreated depression, or Returning to work after long term disability, …), you'd have serious advantages (maturity, …) compared to younger candidates.

Reason for my advice is that, imho, it's better to over-perform in a "smaller" job, that getting drown in a prestigious position. You'll feel better and enter a virtuous circle — I gather it is something you now value more than a few more thousands in you salary; and I'd totally agree with you.

  • 2
    @downvoter: I'd be glad to make my answer more useful — any suggestion?
    – ebosi
    Nov 18 '18 at 13:34

Firstly you really should make sure your health is in order.
If you haven't yet, get treatment for your condition and create surroundings that are a positive influence on your well being.

If you live in a country where you are eligible for government support due to unemployment or your condition use the funds you get to take your time in finding something that you really enjoy doing in IT or related areas.

Chances are if you enjoy your work you not only will excell in it but also will become sucessful.

Nowadays there really is no one true path to achieve something.
It is a blessing and a curse though at the same time as it makes it sometimes hard to find your way.

Also, rejections are common.
Keep applying at companies that you'd like to work for.
If possible look in other cities, even countries if you feel up for it.

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